*Awqaf Ministry still awaiting response from Saudi Haj ministry to complete procedures
Qatar is still awaiting a proper response from the Saudi authorities on the queries related to the organising of the Haj pilgrimage this year, an official source at the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs said on Tuesday.
Explaining the current situation, the source said: "The organisation of Haj affairs is subject to an annual agreement concluded between Qatar's Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs and the Ministry of Haj and Umrah in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The two sides signed an agreement for this year on February 21. The terms of this agreement included the regulations for Qatar's pilgrims in terms of land and air transport, accommodation, the number of pilgrims, the use of electronic route and the issuance of permits for Haj and visas for residents."
As the time drew near for finalising the arrangements for this year's pilgrimage, the ministry contacted the competent authorities in the Ministry of Haj and Umrah in Saudi Arabia to know about the arrangements concerning the Qatari pilgrims in the current situation. "However, we did not find any cooperation or positive response from the Saudi Ministry of Haj which has led to confusion and suspension of the regulatory process for Qatar's pilgrims, where the organisers accredited in the country were not able to carry out their duties towards the citizens wishing to perform Haj this year," the official source noted.
Qatar is keen to ensure the safety of the Qatari pilgrims and provide them all the amenities during Haj, the source said adding that the absence of any diplomatic or official representation of Qatar in Saudi Arabia has made it difficult to look after the affairs of Qatari pilgrims. Considering the harassment -- like forcing to leave their homes and Saudi Arabia -- that Qatari pilgrims faced in Makkah on June 5 this year and in light of the current situation, the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs remains concerned and fearful that Qatari pilgrims may face 'any inconvenience', the source said.
The source said the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs is still waiting for a response from the Ministry of Haj and Umrah in Saudi Arabia to complete the procedures concerning the pilgrims of Qatar, as has been the case between the two countries in the past.
Early in June, local media reports claimed Qataris were stopped from entering the Grand Mosque in Makkah.
The Haj is a pilgrimage that Muslims must perform at least once in their lifetimes if they are able to do so.
But the lead-up to this year's Haj , which takes place at the beginning of September, has been overshadowed by the Gulf crisis.
Saudi Arabia closed its border on June 5 to Qatar as part of the diplomatic crisis.
Doha has previously labelled current Haj arrangements as "illogical". It has also accused Saudi Arabia of politicising the Haj.